Conspiracy of silence allowed NHS rape spree
IT WAS a secret that William Kerr was determined to cover up. Working as a National Health Service psychiatrist in Northern Ireland he had been accused of luring a teenage patient into his car,claiming that sex would help her mental condition. After an internal inquiry the Belfast hospital advised him that “if he wanted to continue to practise medicine” he should leave Northern Ireland. He applied to Clifton hospital in York but omitted the references from his Belfast job in his CV.
The fact that Clifton neither spotted this nor even telephoned his previous employers to check his bona fides allowed him to continue where he had left off — preying on young,mentally unstable women.
It was a laxity within the NHS that was to continue from his appointment in 1965 until his retirement in 1988. A government inquiry has now concluded that during this time he raped or sexually molested at least 67 women.
The inquiry — set up after an investigation into the allegations by The Sunday Times — blames an “institutional moral failure” in the NHS for allowing him to get away with it for so long. It said that junior staff were unwilling to question “all-powerful” consultants and that complaints by patients were ignored.
The inquiry concluded that the scandal was not investigated for 20 years because of excessive respect for and fear of consultants; a greater concern for professionals than for patients;an exaggerated loyalty to colleagues and a tendency to disbelieve mentally ill patients.
Kerr, an arrogant, bullying figure, was persistently alleged to have made sexual advances towards women and wa